What the Tablas Creek team is drinking with our Thanksgivings in 2023

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It's brings extended family together for a day of cooking, eating, and reflecting on what we're grateful for. It's still largely uncommercialized. And it comes at a time of year where those of us who work at wineries are finally able to slow down and relax. Especially after this year's late, long harvest, that's something to be thankful for indeed.

Before diving into specific recommendations, it's worth going over some things that don't change. Try not to stress over your choices. Open a range of wines. Expect each of them to sing with a dish or two, coexist peacefully enough with another, and maybe clash with something. That can be fun, and instructive. Remember, and accept that it's OK, that nothing will pair particularly well with sweet potato casserole or roasted Brussels sprouts. Open a few more wines than you think you'll need, and don't feel bad about having wine leftovers, along with your food. You'll likely learn something, and have fun along the way. Remember that open bottles kept in the fridge should be fine for a week or more. And if you're still stressing after reading all these recommendations, I refer you to the 2016 piece on W. Blake Gray's blog where he set up a simple 5-question quiz to answer the question "is this wine good for Thanksgiving". I'm sure I haven't gone through every possible combination, but I've never gotten any answer other than "yes".

OK, now that I've told you any choice is perfectly fine, it's only fair that I acknowledge my own preferences. After all, there are wines that I tend to steer clear of, like wines that are powerfully tannic (which tend to come off even more so when they're paired with some of the sweeter Thanksgiving dishes), and wines that are high in alcohol (which tend to be fatiguing by the end of what is often a marathon of eating and drinking). But that still leaves you plenty of options. With a traditional turkey dinner, I tend to steer people toward richer whites and rosés, and fruitier reds relatively light in oak and tannin. Plenty of Tablas Creek wines fit these broad criteria, so if you want to stay in the family, you could try anything from Roussanne and Esprit Blanc to Dianthus Rosé to Counoise or Cotes de Tablas. Richer red meat preparations open up a world of Mourvedre-based reds young or old, from Esprit de Tablas to Panoplie to En Gobelet, which just (say it out loud) sounds like something you should be drinking at this time of year.  

Capon with Panoplie

But I'm just one person. As I've done the last several years, I reached out to our team to ask them what they were planning on drinking this year. This is super fun for me to see, and I'm hoping it will be as much fun for you. One thing I love is that while some will be drinking Tablas Creek, many (including me!) have made other choices. And that's normal. Those of us who work in wine usually do so part because we love its many facets, and there's an amazing variety of wine made around the world. Whether you choose an American wine for this quintessentially American holiday, or celebrate America as a melting pot by choosing wines from elsewhere, I refer you back to Blake Gray's article. You're not wrong.

My team's responses are below, in their own words, in alphabetical order.

Janelle Bartholomew, Wine Club Assistant
I am such a traditionalist that I tend to reach for the same bottles of wine each year. Why fix something that isn’t broken, eh?! In our house we always roast a turkey with all the fixings, and my absolute favorite wines to pair with all the goodies are Tablas Creek Counoise, and Bourboulenc.  The Bourboulenc is a newer addition to our table because it is a relatively newer addition to TCV’s portfolio, but it is an absolute stunner!  There will be bubbles while playing board games, loads of charcuterie, and lots and lots of laughs! From my family to yours – Happy Holiday!

Charlie Chester, Senior Assistant Tasting Room Manager
This Thanksgiving, we're keeping things simple, delicious, and easygoing. On the menu: a classic turkey and, weather permitting, maybe a BBQ pork loin. To wash it down, we're opting for the Lone Madrone Carbonic Cinsault – a fruity red that plays well with turkey's savory goodness.

If we successfully get to fire up the grill, I plan on serving a 2020 TCV Grenache to complement both entrees. One of my "go-to" wines for its liveliness and versatility

Joining us at the table will be my sister's family and, of course, visiting from Long Island, Tennessee, and the coast of Oregon, my brand-new in-laws from Amber's side. We're looking forward to the laughs, stories, and shared joy that make Thanksgiving special. So, here's to good food, great company, and a couple of wines that promise to make it a Thanksgiving to remember. Cheers!

Amanda Collins, Cellar Assistant
Thanksgiving is one of the most unpredictable holidays in my opinion. I never know where we are going, who’s going to be there, or what’s going to be served until the last few days before. I know that probably puts me in a severe minority here…. 

That being said, this usually means grabbing wines that can be paired with just about anything! So this year I’m going with our Clairette Blanche and our Counoise. Clairette is light crisp and a bit shy so as to not overwhelm the palate, she’s pretty without being boastful. Then we have counoise that carries its light spice quality on the back of lovely juicy notes that tend to lift the holiday spirits and compliments a variety of dishes! I hope I chose correctly!!! Either way, we are sure to be surrounded by good people, good food, and many fun wines! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Austin Collins, Cellar and Vineyard
After a long hard harvest Thanksgiving will be a welcome reprieve from work madness. The same as every year I believe it important to drink 2023 Beaujolais Nouveau from several producers. It drinks so very fresh and lightens up the heavy thanksgiving dishes. It is also likely that we will open a few bottles of Esprit de Tablas Blanc, vintages yet to be chosen, but I am leaning toward the 2021, as it is very lively right now. Finally, to cap it all off I will be opening a 2014 Domaine Berthet-Bondet Vin Jaune. I love Vin Jaune, especially for this time of year, and especially from Chateau Chalon. Happy Thanksgiving.

Neil Collins, Director of Winemaking
What wines will be on our Thanksgiving table this year?

We will certainly be opening a 2022 Lone Madrone Wirz Riesling, Cienega Valley, planted in 1964, as it was recently released and we're all excited about it, perfect for the day. I also have been saving a bottle of Reyneke Chenin Blanc, a natural wine, Demeter biodynamic certified from South Africa. I am generally not especially a fan of natural wines as they are often a bit funky for me, often tasting like everything I spend my life trying to avoid, but when in the right hands and well-made they can be very special. This bottle was a gift from my friend Tommy Oldre, he konws my taste well so I trust that it will be fun. As always there will be an Esprit Blanc and an Esprit Red present, There will surely be Bristols Cider lurking in the ice box. In a wine focused family it is always fun to see what shows up on the table.

Enjoy a great table of food, wine and great company. When the three align it makes for something truly special!!!!!

Ian Consoli, Director of Marketing
I am looking at a smaller group around the table this year, so I won't open as many bottles as usual. That being the case, I need to make sure they're the good stuff! We'll start with some Champagne from Delamotte. Then, I have a bottle of Condrieu, a Cinsaut from Sandlands, and a few red Burgundies to choose from in my cellar. The Cinsaut is the one I am most curious to try. I feel Cinsaut (like Counoise) should have a lot of success with Thanksgiving dinner.

Terrence Crowe, Tasting Room
Tis the season to be thankful. Thankful for for family, friends and the creek of Tablas. The wines for this years thanksgiving feast are as follows:

The wines are a representation  of my ‘thanksgiving’ to an organization that is a true pillar of the community. An authentic, forerunner and leader in a town undergoing much recent change. 

TributDarren Delmore, National Sales Manager
My family will be deep in the oyster lands of West Marin County on the holiday, so I'm packing my last bottle of 2020 Laurent Tribut Chablis AC to accompany some raw Kumamotos if all goes well. Tribut is a classic and hard to find longtime Vineyard Brands small production gem. When I had this vintage a couple months back, it tasted like lemon zest and oyster shells itself, with the ripeness of the year smoothing out the producer's hallmark austerity.  

Chelsea Franchi, Senior Assistant Winemaker
After so many jokes that Harvest 2023 was going to end sometime in 2024, I’m incredibly grateful to get to celebrate Thanksgiving with my little family without worrying about breaking up the day with fermentation cap management; we’re finished in the cellar and are slowly assimilating back into society! This year, my husband, daughter and I will be heading to Mexico for some much-needed (and appreciated) post-harvest bonding time. While Mexico does produce wines, I’ll likely be focusing on cervezas and tequila/mezcal based cocktails to pair with the local fare. Wherever and however you are celebrating, I hope your glass is filled with something that elevates the experience and brings immense joy!

Eddie Garcia, Logistics
After a several year hiatus of not traveling for Thanksgiving… this year I’m packing my bags and hitting the road to Phoenix. But, I’m making sure that I’m not leaving empty handed and bringing a taste of Paso with me . I have two wines that I’m excited to share with my family this year. The first is a 2020 Le Cuvier Zinfandel. A solid choice to introduce Paso Zinfandel to a couple family members I found out recently have never tasted a Zin! And my second choice is a 2020 “The Dance” Cabernet Sauvignon from Barton Family Wines. A solid west side Cab. that I’m bringing for the family members who like hearty reds… *my hand is raised*.   

Most importantly though taking time to be thankful for the chance in spending time with family, my kids being healthy/happy and being part of the TCV family. Happy Thanksgiving!

Kaitlyn Glynn, Cellar Assistant
This Thanksgiving we will be starting the day with some autumn cocktails before moving on to the wines. First up will be an easy drinking 2022 Grenache Pet Nat from Dreamcote which will pair nicely with the football we will be watching that day! Next we have a lineup of 2021 Tablas Creek Esprit Blanc, the 2021 Hot Blooded Counoise from Barton Family Wines, and the 2021 Lapsus from Benom to enjoy throughout the day and with our feast. Happy Thanksgiving!

Craig Hamm, Assistant Winemaker
This Thanksgiving came up real quick on me. Having just pressed of most of the grapes in the cellar, I haven’t had much time to think about the upcoming holidays. Our Thanksgiving dinner will be held at my brother’s house. I will be opening a 2022 Patelin Rosé as my mother would like to have a glass of a rose with her meal. We opened a few different Turley wines at harvest lunches and they have been amazing, so I will stop by and pick up a bottle of something they are pouring in there tasting room on Vineyard Drive. Nice perk when living in wine country! I will bring a bottle I made from Velo Vineyard Syrah in 2018. There has to be a Grenache on the table so Tablas Creek 2021 Grenache will definitely be there. Cheers and Happy holidays.

Dusty Hannah, Tasting Room
This year I am looking forward to having a traditional type Thanksgiving with some close friends. Friends that are very special to me and because of that I want to share some special bottles. Therefore, I couldn't think of anything better than Tablas Creek.

1997 Tablas Creek Rouge. I was fortunate enough to land one of these bottles as a gift from Neil Collins, and I even got to sample another bottle a few months ago and it still has plenty of life! Really looking forward to it!
2019 Tablas Creek Counoise. Before I discovered this wonderful grape, my Thanksgiving wine was a Cru Beaujolais, but Counoise has now taken over as my mainstay for Thanksgiving. It has soft tannins, wonderful notes of red fruit and good acidity, which is something that is needed to pair with my wide range of dishes on my table.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Cheers.

Ray's WinesRay King, Tasting Room
My family and I will enjoy a small traditional Thanksgiving here in Paso Robles. We will be enjoying:

2018 Haliotide, Extra Brut Rosé, 100% Pinot Noir. San Luis Obispo County. 12.2 abv 
2020 Bico Amarelo, Vinho Verde, Portugal. 11.5 abv
2021 Tablas Creek Vineyard, Mourvèdre. ROC & CCOF certified. 13.0 abv. 
Simple and delicious. 

Jordan Lonborg, Viticulturist (sent in from vacation)
A magnum of 2018 Esprit Rouge for the family this year! 

Erin Mason, Regenerative Specialist
This is the first Thanksgiving in a long time that I don’t have some specific wine in mind for the table. American wines always feel right for this holiday, though. So if I’m drinking and sharing what I have (and love) that fits the theme…then I’ll be opening a 2021 Desire Lines Massa Vineyard Riesling, a 2021 Sandlands Red Table Wine, and a 2019 Hirsch Vineyard Block 8 Pinot Noir. But I might just be drinking gin and tonics! 

Joanna Mohr, Harvest Intern
I’m a last minute everything so my Thanksgiving wines are yet to be bought, but I can’t get enough of our current release Grenache so that will absolutely be enjoyed. I can never choose between pairing turkey with white or red because I think both are equally as fun. I had a great Muscadet Sur Lié the other day that I think will pair great. And a Chinon almost always makes an appearance!

John Morris, Tasting Room Manager
For me the key to Thanksgiving is to keep it simple.  Unless you’re hosting a group of wine geeks, getting too caught up in the perfect pairing can seem a bit much with all that’s going on with both food and guests.  Most writers will relay the same basic info:  choose, low-tannin, moderate-alcohol reds, or richer whites with minimal to no oak.  Fortunately, if you’re choosing Tablas Creek wines, there’s no shortage of options!  Counoise, Grenache, and Côte de Tablas are great choices for reds, while, Marsanne, Bourboulenc, and Côtes de Tablas Blanc are great white choices.  Or maybe an Esprit de Tablas Blanc if you really, really (and I mean really) like your guests.  This year however, I stopped by Wines on Main in Templeton, which was just opened by Jennifer Baeza, a long-time Tasting Room  host here at Tablas Creek, and picked up a 2018 Zyme Valpolicella from Veneto in Northern Italy as the main wine for the meal.  Although I haven’t had this wine, I love Valpolicellas for their medium weight, floral aromas, and subtle fruitiness that is often countered by a touch of bitterness.  Let’s see how it turns out!

Gustavo Prieto, Bidynamicist
Like most years I like to start with bubbles and I’m opening a Cremant de Loire Amirault N/V, from a great producer and it is biodynamic!

For the dinner table, as always I love to have one of my favorites whites from Tablas, a 2004 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, a powerful vintage that will go well with all the different flavors. For reds, a pretty 2005 Esprit the Beaucastel from a great vintage year, also we’ll have on the table a great producer from Cornas, France, Alain Voge, 2019 Chapelle Saint-Pierre. This is a 100% Syrah, with beautiful earthy notes, made from biodynamic grown grapes.

Sarah Schultz, Harvest Intern
Getting to see my family is one of the many reasons why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Our Thanksgiving is an all day affair with food, games, and of course, wine. This year as our family from Lakeport, CA, cannot make it, we have decided to drink wines from Lake county that way they are celebrating with us in spirit. We will start the morning with a light breakfast and Boatique Brut Bubbles. (Pomegranate or orange juice optional) Appetizers include my moms signature spinach dip and popping open a bottle of Brassfield 2021 Pinot Gris. Our dinner is a traditional smoked turkey dinner cooked by my dad this year being served with 2017 Writers Block Syrah. Happy Thanksgiving!

And as for me...
Typically, my choice is to open the largest bottle I have to hand at Thanksgiving gatherings. There's usually a story behind a big bottle, and the randomness of "just open it" adds a certain amount of pleasurable discovery to the gathering, as well as the festivity that large bottles bring. But for the first time in more than 15 years, I'm spending Thanksgiving in Vermont where I grew up, and my dad really didn't collect large-format bottles. So we did the best we could by buying a magnum of Domaine Tempier Rosé from our lovely local wine shop Meditrina, and we'll open some of the lovely old Burgundies that my dad laid down. Here are some of the options:

Wines from outside cellar

We'll probably want a white as well, and my go-to is Esprit Blanc with some -- but not too much -- age. Maybe the 2012 that has been so pretty recently. We'll probably also break into a dessert wine, because if not with a meal like this, when you have a crowd around the table and aren't expected to do anything beyond play games and watch football, when?!? Beyond that, we'll have to see! 

Wherever you are, however you're celebrating, please know that we are thankful for you. May your celebrations be memorable, the wines you open outstanding, and the company even better.

An Internship Unlike Any Other: An Interview with Liberty Wines Apprentice Ceren Eroglu

By Ian Consoli

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you’re aware that each year, we host three harvest interns here at Tablas Creek. Getting to know these interns is always a treat, and knowing that, three months later, they leave steeped in Tablas Creek’s practices and with experience in all aspects of harvest is great. It’s one of the ways that we pay it forward. But this year, an additional opportunity dropped into our laps. In February, we received an email from Liberty Wines, our agent in the UK, about their Apprentice Scheme.  Liberty Wines’ Head of Education, Clare Whitehead, summarized the program:

We have now been running the Liberty Wines Apprentice scheme since 2007 and have had one (or two) apprentices every year since! Unique in the industry, our 2-year programme offers candidates a detailed and wide-ranging experience of many departments within the organisation. They are also supported through the WSET Diploma Level 4 and undertake two vintages in the northern and southern hemispheres.

It has given Liberty an excellent way to grow talent and provides opportunities to people who might not have otherwise chosen wine as a career. We are proud to send our apprentices to our producers, as ambassadors of Liberty Wines and look forward to their return a newfound intimate knowledge of not just winemaking, but also the producer!

We were asked by Liberty Wines if we’d be interested in hosting one of their apprentices for their northern hemisphere harvest. Our response: “of course”! Ceren Eroglu joined the harvest team in early October, making her their first Apprentice to do so in California. She proved to be an immediate asset to the team. Winemaker Neil Collins commented on her engaging nature, intellect, and strong work ethic as valuable components to this harvest's success. "We wish she could have stayed longer!"

Alas, Ceren concluded her one-month harvest this week and will continue her internship back in the United Kingdom. But before she left, I sat down with her to find out why she did this apprenticeship, learn about her wine journey, and hear about her time at Tablas Creek. We can't wait for you to meet her.

Ceren Eroglu

Who are you?

My name is Ceren Eroglu. I am an Apprentice at Liberty Wines and have been here for about a month, helping with the harvest at Tablas Creek.

 What is Liberty Wines?

Liberty Wines is one of the UK's leading wine importers and distributors.

 Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself? Where did you grow up?

I'm from Turkey but moved around a lot growing up. We lived in Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, and Austria before I moved to Canada for college. I live in London now and have been in the UK for the last eight and a half years or so.

 How did you get into wine?

I did my master's in the UK and started working at a financial services research company immediately after. During the lockdowns in 2020, I was going stir-crazy working from home and decided to take a few wine courses. I really enjoyed them, so I spoke to a few friends in the wine industry and decided to switch to wine in October of last year. So it's been exactly a year.

 What wine classes were you taking?

I lived around the corner from the WSET school in London, and I just walked by and thought, "I like wine. This is something I could learn more about." It was just purely by chance. I did levels two and three while working in finance, and now I'm completing my WSET Diploma.

Can you explain what that means regarding working with Liberty, completing the diploma, and what that connection is to Tablas Creek?

Sure. I am in Liberty Wines' two-year Apprenticeship program, working with different teams across the company every month to two months. That gives me exposure to and an understanding of how every single team works, the company, the industry, how we fit within it, and how we can be the best company within it. From my view, the goal of the Apprenticeship is to get a holistic understanding of the wine industry and Liberty wines more generally. Part of that includes two harvests abroad: one in the northern hemisphere, which I'm completing here now, and one in the southern hemisphere, which I will hopefully take part in around February or March next year. It also includes the WSET diploma. I'm about halfway through the second semester of the diploma.

Ceren Eroglu on sorting table

How long do you work the harvests?

It depends. Northern Hemisphere is typically a month, so I'm doing five weeks here at Tablas. Southern Hemisphere is typically about two months just because you're going further away, but I guess I've come a pretty long way anyway.

 Is it common for apprentices to come to the US?

It is typically Europe. It's sometimes based on language requirements, sometimes based on producers. I speak a bit of French, so it was between France and the US. The Brand Manager who covers our producers in the US works with Tablas Creek, and she highly recommended coming here.

 Does it have to be a company that Liberty distributes?

Yes, it's typically a producer we have a really good relationship with who will take the time to teach the apprentice how to make wine and show them around the area.

How's it going?

Really good. I'm having the best time. It's totally different to my day-to-day job. I had to write an email the other day and realized I'd forgotten my laptop password [laughs]. The team is welcoming, and there's a strong sense of community here that I'm really going to miss. This has been a great place for my first harvest because of how understanding and happy to answer questions everyone is.

The harvest team at Tablas Creek 2023

Do you feel like this harvest has helped you understand your WSET courses and diploma?

A hundred percent. Seeing everything has been amazing. I understood the theory behind winemaking, viticulture, vinification, all that stuff, but it was just theory. I had never seen everything in action, and seeing it solidified everything in my mind. It is interesting to see how the team works with different grapes, especially red grapes. Different types of cap management, days of fermentation, how they process the fruit, whether whole cluster or not, which choices they may or may not make, what kind of barrels to use. All of that. Seeing those decisions made in real-time has been super helpful for the rest of my studies.

What are your plans at the conclusion of this internship?

I'll spend a few days in Sonoma and Napa with my partner, then travel along the coast. We'll spend a few more days in Paso so I can show him Tablas before we head back to London. I'll be going straight back to work. I will likely work with Customer Services over Christmas, then prepare for the Southern Hemisphere harvest.

Ceren Eroglu doing a punchdown

What's the best bottle of wine you've ever had?

The best bottle of Tablas Creek was the 2015 Roussanne. I think it's fantastic, so much depth and complexity and so much potential to age further. We tried the 2003 Vermentino with lunch a few weeks ago. That was fantastic too. It's aged beautifully, was quite refreshing, and really vibrant.

Is there anything else you want to share with the Tablas Creek audience?

I think Tablas makes great wines, and I'm so excited to keep enjoying them!

While We Wait for First Fruit: An Interview with our 2023 Harvest Interns

By Ian Consoli

Every year, we like to sit with our newest harvest interns and introduce them to the Tablas Creek Blog audience. We typically do this about this time of year, when they have at least a week of harvesting fruit under their belt and an idea of how harvest is going. Well, as you have likely read on this blog, that's not the case this year! One week into September, this new batch of interns eagerly awaits the first fruit to drop into the cellar. So, this year, we sat down before the rush. What stood out to me is how different their personalities are, yet they are motivated by the same thing: seeing what's next. It is kind of a theme for harvest interns. It is a step towards a career in winemaking for some and a chance to see the process and get closer to the grape for others. This group has a mix of both motivations. They are all awesome, and I can't wait for you to meet them.

Tablas Creek 2023 Harvest Interns - Web

Tablas Creek Harvest Interns. From left: Joanna Mohr, Sarah Schultz, Trevor Pollock

 Who are you?

I am Sarah Schultz. I am a cellar intern at Tablas Creek.

I'm Trevor Pollock. I'm from Paso Robles, California. I'm 23 years old and doing an internship for this harvest.

I'm Joanna Mohr. That's a loaded, vast question I ask myself every day. But yeah, Joanna, and I'm from Minnesota, born and raised.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Bakersfield, California, and went to college at Cal Poly. I have lived in SLO for five years.

Sarah Schultz - Web2023 Harvest Intern Sarah Schultz

I grew up in Paso, but I've moved around a lot. Most recently, I lived in Colorado for about a year and a half, working at a ski resort and being a ski bum. I moved back about seven months ago.

I'm from Minnesota, but I have lived in many places. I worked for a marketing agency that had offices all over the world. I moved with them to Australia for three years and then to London after that. That's how I got into wine, actually.

How did you get into wine?

I went to a wedding at a winery during my sophomore year of high school, and I thought it was the coolest thing that people got to make wine for a living. So that's how I got into it. Now, I want to be a winemaker.

Well, I'm getting into wine right now. I studied plant science over at Cuesta and worked on some farms. I found this opportunity to work at a winery and decided that if I was going to work at a winery, I wanted it to be a place as biodiverse as Tablas.

I went to all the wine regions in Australia and liked it, but I didn't think I would do anything with it. When I moved to London, there were more opportunities to work in wine, and my friend recommended I go to wine school. That sounded great, but I didn't even know what a sommelier was at the time. I went through WSET, and I just loved it. So, I left marketing and became a sommelier.

Have you ever worked in grape harvest before?

I have; this is my fourth harvest. My first was at Phase Two Cellars in San Luis Obispo, then King's Family Vineyard in Virginia, Patson Hall in Sonoma, and now here at Tablas Creek!

Nope, my first one.

I helped pick and prune at a couple wineries in Minnesota, but I haven't done a full harvest. Vineyards in Minnesota are a little different varietally because of the cold climate, but the process is pretty much the same. Except it's a bit more gnarly in terms of the cold; we had a harvest in a snowstorm one year, and it was minus 30, so it was pretty intense in October.

How did you end up working harvest with us?

My goal is to work a harvest in as many locations as possible to figure out where I want to settle. I knew I wanted to come to Paso, then I saw Tablas's job listing, applied, and here I am.

I was in Europe over the summer and heard about his opportunity. I decided to cut my trip short and come back to start harvest.

Trevor Pollock - Web2023 Harvest Intern Trevor Pollock

I got super into biodynamics when I was in Europe, and Tablas always stood out as a winery I was interested in working at in the United States. I applied for the internship two years ago, but it was full by the time I applied. I didn't plan on applying this year, but I saw [Senior Assistant Winemaker] Chelsea's post about looking for interns, and I was like, I'll just shoot a shot. I sent her an email and resume, she remembered me, and here I am.

How is everything going so far?

So far so good. I love all the people. And how can you not be happy when you come to work and you're surrounded by dogs?

It's going great. Getting everything clean and ready for harvest, just prepping stuff.

Everything's good! It's nice to have time to come before the chaos happens and learn the ropes without getting thrown in. Being quite green at it, it's nice to have an idea of what to do. Everyone's super awesome to work with, and it's a really good crew. So far, so good.

What's the best bottle of wine you ever had?

The best bottle of wine I've ever had was Shooting Star Riesling from Lake County Steel Wine. I don't know. It's my favorite wine.

That's a tough one. Recently, I had a really good Viognier with my mom in our backyard. Memorable wines are all about the whole experience of where your surroundings are and who you're sharing it with. I don't remember specifically what the bottle was, but it was a nice Viognier and a nice environment.

Ironically, Chateau de Beaucastel. I was in the South of France and tasted a bottle of Chateau de Beaucastel that shifted something for me. I feel like anyone who has had a best bottle of wine understands how it shifts wine from just being wine to being something else entirely. It is hard to put into words. The wine becomes something that connects you to a place, a time and a memory and something deeper within. And that was before Tablas, so it was cool to find out they were connected. That was kind of like an icing on the cake.

Joanna - Web2023 Harvest Intern Joanna Mohr

What's next for you after your harvest?

Honestly, I don't really know yet. I think that's future Sarah's problem. I don't know. Again, I want to go to as many locations as possible. So somewhere, but I don't really know where yet. I want to do some harvest hopping and go to Australia or New Zealand, but we will see.

I'm not sure. I want to travel a lot more, so I'm thinking about doing a harvest in the Southern Hemisphere. I'd love to go to South America, Australia, or New Zealand.

Not sure. I kind of roll with wherever the wind takes me. I've wanted to do a harvest ever since I first got into wine, just because I want to learn this side of wine. I've been on the sommelier side for so long. I want to learn everything I can here, and I'm super passionate about biodynamics. We will see what happens at the end and where the path goes from here.

Is there anything else you want to share with the Tablas Creek audience?

I think that's it, man. I'm ready for harvest 2023, baby. Let's go!

I'm excited to make wine for you guys this season!

Tablas Creek 2023 Harvest Interns working - Web

A Rhone Enthusiast Joins the Team: An Interview with Cellar Assistant Kaitlyn Glynn

Seeing a new team member join us at Tablas Creek is always exciting. Just recently, Kaitlyn Glynn joined our cellar team in advance of harvest 2023. She comes to us with tons of experience, much of it from other wineries in Paso Robles. It became evident that she is well-known and well-liked when she made a cameo on one of our Instagram posts, and most responses were addressed to her. In the newest piece for our Get to Know the Tablas Cru series, we sat down with Tablas Creek's newest employee to learn more about her path to our cellar.

 Who are you?

I'm Kaitlyn Glynn, the new cellar assistant at Tablas Creek. I just started at the beginning of June, about a month ago.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in north LA in a town called Tujunga. It's by the 101, in the mountains bordering the foothills. My family's all still there, and I go down all the time.

When and how did you get into wine?

I got into wine kind of by accident. I was applying to colleges and unsure what I wanted to do, but I knew I liked chemistry in high school. I applied to UC Davis for viticulture and enology. I decided to take a chance when I got accepted and started the program. On the first day of classes, my very first lecture was Intro to Viticulture. I just fell in love, and there was no going back.

Kaitlyn Glynn tasting wine at TCV
Have you worked in cellars before?

Yes, this is going to be my sixth harvest. I've worked in the lab as an enologist for the Riboli Family of San Antonio Winery here in Paso. I have been a cellar rat for many harvests. I did a little bit of viticulture work at my second harvest at Matchbook Wine Company up in Northern California. I've worked in tasting rooms. Most recently, I was pouring at Benom in Tin City. I also worked in a beer cellar for a while at Silva Brewing. So all sorts of things.

How did you end up working at Tablas Creek?

The last cellar position I held was in 2022 at Alta Colina, and the incredible winemaker there, Molly Lonborg, informed me of this opportunity and encouraged me to apply. That's how I heard about it, and with her help and support, I'm here.

What rituals do you have during harvest?

I don't know about rituals, but I definitely have a caffeine addiction that I develop during harvest. You know, some good cold brews, lots of shots of espresso. Just anything under the sun that has caffeine in it <laughs>. I manage to kick it afterward, but every year it comes back.

I also listen to a lot of music in the cellar during harvest. I like to make a playlist every year with my favorite songs, whether I listen to them while I'm working or on my drive to work, to pump me up to get ready for all of the hard work in front of me. I always try to find the best music to motivate me.

Kaitlyn Glynn in the Tablas Creek Cellar

What is the toughest harvest you ever participated in?

Every harvest has its challenges. I'd say the toughest would be last year's harvest with the heat wave. It felt like we went just overnight from zero to 100. And it was a lot of long hours and hard work, but the team was amazing. We did the best we could with the weather circumstances and rocked it out. It was so rewarding tasting the wines at the end after harvest and seeing all our hard work pay off.

 What is your ultimate goal in Cellar work?

Learn everything I can and be a part of making a beautiful product. I love working in the cellar. I love being hands-on, and I love learning. So it's been really rewarding working in cellars and just getting to do all those things.

If a genie said you could be a head winemaker anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

For me, it's not so much the where; it's the who I'm working with and what I'm doing. I want to be somewhere that is making varietals I'm interested in. I love Rhones; it's my current obsession. I love being here in Paso because we do Rhones so well in that California style. I want to be making something I'm passionate about and working with people who share that passion. The care that goes into the bottle and ensuring we celebrate each vintage and the unique property we're sourcing from is important.

What's the best bottle of wine you ever had?

The best bottle I've had recently was a Domain Laroche Chateauneuf du Pape. It's a hundred percent Grenache from about a hundred-year-old vines, insanely good.

Would you rather:

Cake or pie?

Pie, but it has to be homemade.

Breathe underwater or fly?

Definitely fly

 New World Wine or Old World Wine

New World

 Be a winemaker or a viticulturist?


Kaitlyn Glynn at TCV

Behind Every Good Company is a Great Accountant: An Interview with Senior Accountant Trina Meulpolder

By Ian Consoli

Every company is full of unsung heroes. These silent warriors typically dwell in departments such as IT, HR, and (of course) Accounting. For the newest addition to our "Get to know the Tablas Cru" series, we wanted to shine a light on a key member of our team, Senior Accountant Trina Meulpolder. Trina joined Tablas Creek in August 2021 and made an immediate impression. She occupies one of the desks that line the hallway of our offices. This position comes with a fair amount of pressure because it is hard for those walking by to resist saying hi. Trina has risen to the pressure since day one, between her readily available smile and quick-witted humor.

Trina holds an essential job as an accountant. She ensures that our suppliers get paid, our customers get their products, and our operation has the data it needs to understand what our options are when we need to and has the money that it needs in the right places at the right times. Her ability to organize, communicate, and maneuver around a spreadsheet help dial in many of the backend processes at Tablas Creek. She's a big part of making everything tick, so we can get you your wines without delay. We are thankful for everything Trina does. I can't wait for you to meet her:

Who are you?

I am Trina Meulpolder, the Senior Accountant at Tablas Creek.

Where did you grow up?

Sacramento, California. And I relocated to the area in 2005.

What's your family life like?

Awesome. I have a wonderful husband, a daughter of my own, six stepkids, and three beautiful grandkids. It is a big family, and it's wonderful. They are all here on the Central Coast, so I see them often.

Trina and her Husband

What do you do in your free time?

In my free time, we like to go camping in the mountains and desert and go out to eat with our friends. My hobbies are napping and spending time with our three grandkids.

How did you get into the wine industry?

After relocating here, I was looking for a job. Justin Winery had a position for a marketing assistant, and I decided to apply for it. That was my door into the wine industry.

What other experience did you have before Tablas Creek?

Nothing in the wine industry. I started out as a receptionist for a recycling data processing company right out of high school and worked my way up through the company into an accounting role. I took a few accounting courses and had a wonderful mentor who taught me everything I needed to know to move up in the company.

How did you hear about Tablas Creek?

After 14 years at Justin Winery, I decided it was time to move on. I saw a job posting for Tablas Creek and decided to look into the company. After researching, I decided I really liked what Tablas Creek stood for and wanted to be a part of the team.

How do you like jobs so far?

I love it. I love the people I work for and what Tablas Creek stands for.

What is the most interesting piece of your job?

Learning the vineyard side of the business. I worked at a winery but never got involved in the vineyard/growing side. I enjoy learning about the biodynamic practices of Tablas Creek.

What excites you the most about Tablas Creek?

That we are always striving to do better, we want to take care of the earth, reduce our carbon footprint, take care of our farm workers, and we're never ever satisfied with where we are.

What are you most excited about in your role?

To see how a different winery does things and bring a new perspective on how to do things here at Tablas.

How do you define happiness?

Spending time with my husband and family.

Any closing thoughts?

I love working here. I love being part of what Tablas stands for and am excited to see what's to come.

Tablas Creek Accountant Trina Meulpolder

Our Most Memorable Wines of 2022

As I have done the last few years, I asked our team to share a wine or two that stuck with them from all the ones they'd tried in 2022, and why. This is always one of my favorite blogs to put together. I love seeing the breadth of wine interests of the Tablas Creek team. More than that, I love seeing what inspired them. If you don't work at a winery, you might expect that those of us who do spend most of our time drinking our own wines, but in my experience, that's far from the case. Most people who find a career in wine do so because they find it fascinating, and that interest doesn't go away just because they've landed at a particular winery, even a winery that they love. And most people who work at wineries look at exploring other wines as an enjoyable form of continuing education. So it wasn't a surprise to me that while some of the selections were Tablas Creek, most were not. But what stood out, as usual, was the degree to which the memorableness of a wine was tied to the occasion for which and the company with whom it was opened. As Neil said so well in his submission, it is "with food, company and occasion that great bottles become truly memorable ones."   

Here's everyone's submission, in their own words and only very lightly edited, in alphabetical order (except mine, which is at the end, with some concluding thoughts):

Janelle Bartholomew, Wine Club Assistant
MaineThe most memorable wine for 2022 was a bottle shared with friends on the beach in Maine this last June. Our friend and former TCV co-worker Dani wanted us to try a local wine. So we opened a Bluet, Maine Wild Blueberry Sparkling Wine and shared it on the beach. It was interesting, something new, and a little different. Sharing wine with friends makes it even that much more memorable.

Austin Collins, Cellar and Vineyard
I do not always possess the sensory or photographic memory that I wish did. Often, I drink delicious wines without taking a photo of them and they can be lost amongst the heap of labels and flavors piling up in my brain. But, every so often a wine is just too enjoyable to be forgotten. That wine for me this year was the 2020 Silice Rouge from Maison des Ardoisières. This is a wine of 100% whole-cluster fermented Mondeuse, coming in at a cool 10.5% alcohol! It immediately took me to a forest of Eastern France, on the slopes of the Alps.

I do have one honorable mention for the list this year. We all know that a bottle of wine can be made by the company and/or setting it is enjoyed in. The setting: sitting with my wife on the balcony of a roof-top restaurant at the King George hotel in Athens, Greece. The wine: a 2020 Mandilaria from Venetsanos Winery in Santorini. The wine was decent, the view of the Acropolis was amazing, the woman sitting across from me, stunning! Happy Holidays, please enjoy those around you along with what is on the table.

Neil's wines 2022Neil Collins, Executive Winemaker
Those that know me or have read some previous “memorable bottle” blogs will know that I believe the great wines are of course great by themselves, but it is at the table with food, company and occasion that great bottles become truly memorable ones.

So, this year there was a clear and obvious choice for me. The whole Collins family, both kids along with their brides and young Finnegan our grandson, were heading up Big Sur to celebrate Finn’s first birthday. Now, it has become evident that it is a physical impossibility for one of us Collins to drive by Nepenthe without stopping for lunch, so all of us? Lunch it is! Our good friend Alicia was running the floor and brought the menus, including the magnum list. My eye was drawn immediately to a magnum of 2017 Domaine Tempier Pour Lulu, Bandol. This wine was released in recognition of Lulu Peyraud's 100th birthday. Tempier is always a favorite. Recognizing Lulu’s 100th whilst celebrating Finn’s 1st , pretty special. Nepenthe and its people, a magnum of Tempier with Steak frites all round, Collins heaven!!! And yes the wine was true to the producer, very special. Enjoy the holidays all!!

Three of Ian's top wines from 2022Ian Consoli, Director of Marketing
I had a very active wine year, making it difficult to narrow down my choices. I experienced my first trip to France (Champagne and Paris) and shared bottles with classmates in my Wine EMBA program. Also, every year at Tablas Creek offers opportunities to try unicorn wines. The year started with one of those unicorn wines when Jason Haas shared a bottle of 1990 Chave Hermitage, a selection from his father’s cellar he opened with dinner the previous night. National Sales Manager Darren Delmore and I were mind-blown by the opportunity to try this older vintage from a historic producer. In Champagne, the standout was Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2011. It had a brioche character with the softest bubbles I have ever experienced. I highly recommend it for any bubbles lovers. I remember this Chignin Bergeron blowing everyone’s mind at a dinner in Reims. It was fun to expose other wine lovers to the glory of Roussanne. Finally, everyone in my class shared one of their favorite bottles from the winery they worked at. This To Kalon Fume Blanc from Robert Mondavi stood out and changed how I think about Sauvignon Blanc. It was a fun year of outstanding wines; I can’t wait to see what wines come my way in 2023.

Terrence Crowe, Tasting Room
The most memorable wine I opened this year was a 2003 Tablas Creek Vineyard Roussanne. Liquid silk personified. Guests are often shocked when we discuss “age-able” white wines. This 2003 Roussanne was in immaculate condition and was a fine example of the lasting power Tablas Creek wines hold.  

A shout out to my distinguished lady Marcy as always. Loving my 2019 Tablas Creek Marsanne releases right now. Really lovely stuff. 


Darren Delmore, National Sales Manager
My most memorable wine of 2022 was 2010 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge. As employees of Tablas Creek we get access to the other wines of the Perrin portfolio. In December 2012, with a new baby in tow and a negative wine budget, I made the wise call to buy a 6 pack wooden case of this and set it and forget it in my wine storage space in Morro Bay. I remember Robert Haas and Jean Pierre Perrin saying that 2010 Beaucastel was a vintage you could drink straight away or in twenty years. I picked the in-between, and on a family getaway to the desert a couple weeks ago, we enjoyed the first bottle from the case over two days. On night one, it seemed a touch older than it should have, more of a secondary state with maple and mushroom flavors more than fruit, then on night two, all the elements were together, and the garrigue-scented dusty strawberry aromas, and rich CdP palate were fully in line. Turns out that second day was a fruit day on the biodynamic calendar, not a root day, as the first day had been.

Ray's wines 2022Ray King, Tasting Room
These are my most memorable wines of the year.

6) Tablas Creek Antithesis, Chardonnay, 2003 (no link for 2003 but here's one for the 2005)

Erin Mason, Regenerative Specialist
There are three bottles that come to mind for different reasons. The first is the 2020 Slamdance Kooperative Red Table Wine. There is something really special about drinking a young winemaker’s first wine and this one hits all the right spots for me. Daniel Callan’s earnest approach to making a wine of historical relevance from vineyards on the fringe is inspiring. Hand harvested, basket-pressed, native ferment, hand bottled… that’s a wine made with painstaking love. The packaging is sick, and the wine is completely yummy. I drank it with one of my good friends outside the Mission San Juan Bautista from plastic cups. Another is the 2018 Tzum Aine Grenache from the folks at Hiyu Farms up in Oregon. It was one of the most dynamic examples of domestic Grenache I’ve ever had—and I drink a lot of Grenache. It was paired with a cheese course that included Hoshigaki made on the farm, and the whole experience was lovely. Lastly, the 2021 Margins Assyrtiko from the Paicines Ranch vineyard where I worked. It was the first harvest ever from that vineyard. Awesome to see the potential of alternative approaches to viticulture and Assyrtiko from California.

John Morris, Tasting Room Manager
I didn’t have to think too much about this one. The most memorable wine for me this year was unquestionably a 2019 Roussanne Vieilles Vignes from Chateau de Beaucastel, graciously brought by the tasting room by all-around-nice-guy and noted wine nerd John Seals. John was in the process of relocating to Paso Robles, stopping by tasting rooms to introduce himself, tasting, scoping out the right place to work, and more to the point, sharing fabulous wines. The Vieilles Vignes was as Roussanne should be, rich, unctuous, layered, spicy, very long, and just plain delicious. It was an unexpected treat on what was already a perfect spring day in Paso Robles. Thanks John!

Nadia Nouri, Marketing Assistant
Some of my most memorable wines of 2022 are attached to memories with some of my favorite people. One night, a group of my friends and I hosted a 20’s themed murder mystery dinner party where everyone brought a bottle of wine to share, and I brought a bottle of one of my go-to’s, Donati Family Vineyard 2018 Ezio Cabernet Sauvignon. It was so fun to see what everyone else brought (as a group of college students, it was a mixed bag!) Throughout the night, we got to try everyone else’s picks as we attempted to discover who the killer was. Everyone was in character the whole night, and it turned out to be a huge surprise who the culprit was. I will never forget that night! A few of my other most memorable wines are Tablas Creek wines, of course. When I started working at Tablas Creek, I got to bring home more obscure single varietal wines like our 2021 Picardan and 2020 Terret Noir to this same group of wonderful people, who loved discovering new wine, and I am so grateful I got to share my world with them.

...And As for Me
Most summers, we go back to Vermont to spend at least a few weeks in the house in which I grew up, where my mom still spends half the year, and where my sister and her family live too. After we were unable to come back in 2020 we decided in 2021 to spend a full month back east, and loved it so much that we repeated the longer visit in 2022, soaking in all the lovely green of Vermont and the unhurried time with family. It's also a chance to dive into the amazing cellar my dad accumulated in his decades as a wine importer, and each summer we try to pick a meal where we pull out all the stops and just go for it. This year, we chose three treasures from great vintages and classic regions, and a meal designed to show them off: steaks grilled with herb butter, a gratin of summer squash, and garlic scapes from the garden. We also had corn on the cob, because it was Vermont in the summer.

JH Summer Meal

The two wines we opened to start were a 1961 Lafite, a legendary vintage from the era when my dad was the chateau's exclusive American importer, and a 1981 Beaucastel. The Lafite was still chewy and complex. Savory with flavors of tobacco and earth and mocha, still layered, a wine to dive into. The Beaucastel was friendlier, cherry skin and loam and meat drippings, lighter on its feet, translucent and lovely. Both were fully mature but very much alive. Those two wines were so good that we didn’t end up opening the Clos des Lambrays, which gives us something to forward to on our next visit. Just a lovely occasion to taste and appreciate two magical wines that we have a personal connection to, and be thankful for my dad's judgment and foresight.  

JH most memorable wines of 2022

A few concluding thoughts:
I did my best to link each wine to a page with information about it, should you want to research details. But I don't think replicating a specific wine is necessarily the right goal. If there's one thing that I've learned from writing these end-of-year appreciations for a decade now, it's that it really is the confluence of wine and occasion that makes for the most memorable experiences. Wine, after all, is the ultimate social beverage. The size of a bottle means it's something that you share with others. The fact that wine is ephemeral, that each bottle is a reflection of particular grapes grown in a particular place in a particular vintage, means that each one is different and also a unique reflection of time and place. Add in the human element, where the winemaker or winemakers are taking (or not taking) actions based on what they see, smell, and taste, and you have what is in essence a time capsule that comes with the added benefit of helping you enjoy a meal and bring insight into the flavors it contains. What a perfect starting point for a meaningful evening.

I wish you all memorable food and wine experiences in 2023, and even more than that, the opportunity to share them with people you love.

Reflecting on 15 Years at Tablas Creek – An Interview with Three Familiar Faces

By Ian Consoli

2007 was a big year for Tablas Creek. It was a blockbuster vintage, one of the most intense (and highest-scoring) in our history. It was the first year we could ship to five new states (Florida, Maine, Michigan, South Carolina, and Vermont) as unconsititutional state laws were changed following the Granholm v Hield Supreme Court decision. Ohio and Nebraska would join the group later in 2007. Behind the scenes, the TTB was working through its internal issues that the submission of the Paso Robles sub-AVAs brought to light, and paving the way for the AVA map we know today. Our founder Robert Haas turned 80, and we saw great articles like this one in the San Francisco Chronicle celebrating his influential career.

It was also a milestone year because of who we brought on board the Tablas Creek team. Three people you likely know today started working here that year: including Senior Assistant Winemaker Chelsea Franchi, Tasting Room Manager John Morris, and Director of Biodynamics Gustavo Prieto. They came to us from all over the world at different stages of their personal and professional lives. We decided to ask each of them to reflect on the past 15 years, from how they came here initially to how it's going today. Thank you, Chelsea, John, and Gustavo, for your 15 years of dedication to everything Tablas Creek!

Chelsea Franchi  John  Morris  Gustavo PrietoChelsea Franchi, John Morris, and Gustavo Prieto

Please state your name and position.

My name is Chelsea Franchi. I am the Senior Assistant Winemaker.

My name is John Morris. I am the Tasting Room Manager.

Gustavo Prieto, I am the Biodynamicist.


What brought you to Tablas Creek 15 Years ago?

I came tasting here with a friend from Cal Poly, which was a super mind-blowing experience. I was talking to somebody years ago at a Rhone Rangers event about how people tend to lean towards either Rhone reds or Rhone whites. Of course, you can love both of them, but one sucks you in early on. For me, it was Esprit Blanc here at Tablas. It started an absolute obsession with Rhone whites. So yeah, decided a few weeks after I came tasting here that I should apply for a job.

A couple of things. I had talked about working at Tablas Creek a couple of times, but there was nothing full-time available. When a position did open up, I went for it. I wanted to be here because the wine was more up my alley than most in Paso back then. I had come from Seattle, where I was mainly drinking European wines with lower alcohol and more nuance and finesse.

I was impressed by the wines and I wanted to learn more, so I decided to apply for a position. It was like all roads led to Tablas Creek.

John  Gustavo  and Chelsea working

What was your position title when you started?

Greeter? <laugh>. Basically a glorified hostess.

Tasting Room Manager! So, you know, I've made no progress in 15 years  <laughs>. I feel like I've had three jobs within the same position, really. There was my role before we expanded the tasting room in 2011, post-expansion, and now with the changes COVID-19 brought about. The job has evolved as we have grown.

Tasting room attendant.

Chelsea in TR 2007Chelsea working the register in our old tasting room

 Did you think you would still be here 15 years later?

I was still in college and didn't have the imagination to begin to dream that I could have ended up in the position I am in. So no, no I did not.

No. No, I didn't. If anybody would've told me when I walked in the door that I'd still be here in 15 years, I would've probably not believed them.

I hoped so!

Gustavo and John at a tasting in 2007Gustavo and John at a tasting in 2007

What kinds of wine were you drinking then and what are you mostly drinking now?

That's a really interesting question. To look back on it and try to compare and contrast. Back then, I drank a lot of entry-level reds from France, Spain, and Italy. They were less expensive, higher toned, with that brighter acidity and a little bit of grip to them. Cost was a huge factor because I was a college student. Now I'd say I probably drink more domestic stuff and explore more California wines. But obviously still plenty of wines from other countries.

I was mostly drinking red wines, especially Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile. Now I enjoy Rhone blends and varietals, reds, whites, and rosés. Also, red and white Burgundy, but I'm very open to all kinds of wines.

 What is the biggest change you have witnessed at Tablas Creek since you started?

I think the change at Tablas Creek is, more often than not, a progression of our core values. Seeing the introduction of new varieties in the vineyard and coming into the cellar. There is a harvest elation when a new variety hits the cellar door for the first time. Everybody has their camera phones out, taking videos of it going onto the sorting table and its first pump over. That excitement is so cool and so real. Also, the biodynamic and ROC certifications. And none of these beliefs are new to Tablas Creek, but we're making them bigger and better, continuing that ideology.

The size. I feel like the integrity has always been there and still is, which is super important to me. And the reason for being is the same, but, you know, when I started in the tasting room, I had six or seven employees. That has now grown to eight full-time employees and twenty-five total.

The continual evolution of our farming practices that keep pushing us toward greater sustainability, and seeing the evolution from organic to biodynamic and now the ROC certification.

Tasting Room team in 2007Tasting room staff at Tablas Creek Vineyard in 2007

What is the most significant change in your life over the past 15 years?

I feel like some of the biggest, most important things a human can do have happened since I started here. I got engaged, bought a house, got married, and had a baby. Yeah, like all of the great things <laugh>.

I got married and took on a few stepkids. No question, that's the biggest change.

Please share one of your favorite stories/memories from the past 15 years at Tablas Creek.

When I had been working here a week or two as a greeter, I was standing outside one sunny Saturday morning, and a… gruff-looking gentleman <laugh>, approached the front doors. It was a bustling weekend day and I, as kindly as I could, told the gentleman that we were busy and that he would need to come back some other time. He brushed past me without a second glance and said, "I'm the winemaker" <laugh>. It turned out to be winemaker Neil Collins, who lives on the property. I thought, 'well, it was a really good two-week run. I had a really good time, and now I'm fired.' Clearly, I wasn't fired, and now I work with Neil and I've worked with him for 15 years. He is like a father figure to me. Oh, the things we've overcome <laugh>.

This was some years ago, on a perfect Spring day during Hospice du Rhone, before we opened the new tasting room and things weren’t quite as busy or tightly scheduled as they are now.  10 or 12 French men and women, some with limited English, some with none, strolled into the tasting room and asked for a tour. Why not!  As we walked into the vineyard doing our best to communicate, it was revealed that I was hosting winemakers and vignerons from Domaine du Gros 'Noré, Domaine Clape, and another prominent property that escapes me, in town for Hospice.  Bear in mind that I was relatively new at this time, and certainly didn’t have the depth of knowledge to answer deep technical question about the vineyard or winemaking.  Good thing there was a language barrier!  Anyway, I did my best, I believe they were happy, and I again thanked my lucky stars for landing at Tablas Creek.

About 5 years ago, during our annual pig roast party, all of the sheep managed to knock down their fence, run down Vineyard drive, and up the neighbor's hill. Neil and I spent an hour chasing after them, finally bringing the last ones in after dark. It's funny now, not so much then!

Significant Life events in the past 15 yearsSignificant life events for Chelsea and John in the past 15 years

You have one Tablas Creek wine from any vintage to take to a deserted island. What's it going to be?

That one is really difficult, but I think it would have to be the 2003 Esprit de Beaucastel. That was one of the Esprits we were pouring in the tasting room when I started here. To this day, it still has the lushness, velvety texture, and chewy fruit, all of the elements that I loved about it then I still love about it today. And it's one of those really cool wines that just, I mean, all wines have the ability to transport you if you give them the opportunity, but that one especially takes me back to where I was in that moment of time. It's funny to look back on that wine and think how many things have changed. But that wine, the way I feel about it, has not.

2017 Esprit de Tablas Blanc. The Esprit Blanc tends to be my favorite wine in general because it is so unique and is almost always the best white wine in the region, and possibly even California some years. The 2017 is so complex. It's waxy, herbal, and spicy. But it's not too big or too rich. Good acidity, just super balanced wine.

Uf, that's a tough one, but if I have to choose one, it would be the 2005 Esprit de Beaucastel rouge.

Any parting thoughts?

The fact that I've known Gustavo and John for 15 years, and Neil, Jason and all of these people for 15 years is really special. Even people I met working in the tasting room that I still see today. Every time I walk into the tasting room or attend a Tablas Creek event, I meet somebody new and look forward to seeing them the next time they visit. We have such a great audience, and it's a true delight to make friends with everybody who comes through these doors. It's a really unique and special experience and I absolutely love that.

Yeah, I feel lucky to be here, to be part of the contributing team. It's been a really great 15 years.

2007 Chelsea Franchi  John  Morris  Gustavo PrietoThe earliest archived photos of Chelsea, John and Gustavo at Tablas Creek Vineyard


What We're Drinking with Thanksgiving 2022

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It's brings extended family together for a day of cooking, eating, and reflecting on what we're grateful for. It's still largely uncommercialized. And it comes at a time of year where those of us who work at wineries are finally able to slow down and relax. After the ten-week sprint that is harvest, that's something to be thankful about indeed.

Before diving into specific recommendations, it's worth going over some things that don't change. Try not to stress over your choices. Open a range of wines. Expect each of them to sing with a dish or two, coexist peacefully enough with another, and maybe clash with something. That can be fun, and instructive. Remember, and accept that it's OK, that nothing will pair particularly well with sweet potato casserole or roasted Brussels sprouts. Open a few more wines than you think you'll need, and don't feel bad about having wine leftovers, along with your food. You'll likely learn something, and have fun along the way. Remember that open bottles kept in the fridge should be fine for a week or more. And if you're still stressing after reading all these recommendations, I refer you to the 2016 piece on W. Blake Gray's blog where he set up a simple 5-question quiz to answer the question "is this wine good for Thanksgiving". I'm sure I haven't gone through every possible combination, but I've never gotten any answer other than "yes".

OK, now that I've told you any choice is perfectly fine, it's only fair that I acknowledge my own preferences. After all, there are wines that I tend to steer clear of, like wines that are powerfully tannic (which tend to come off even more so when they're paired with some of the sweeter Thanksgiving dishes), and wines that are high in alcohol (which tend to be fatiguing by the end of what is often a marathon of eating and drinking). But that still leaves you plenty of options. With a traditional turkey dinner, I tend to steer people toward richer whites and rosés, and fruitier reds relatively light in oak and tannin. Plenty of Tablas Creek wines fit these broad criteria, so if you want to stay in the family, you could try anything from Marsanne and Esprit Blanc to Dianthus Rosé to Counoise or Cotes de Tablas. Richer red meat preparations open up a world of Mourvedre-based reds young or old, from Esprit de Tablas to Panoplie to En Gobelet, which just (say it out loud) sounds like something you should be drinking at this time of year.  

But I'm just one person. As I've done the last several years, I reached out to our team to ask them what they were planning on drinking this year. Their responses are below, in their own words, in alphabetical order.

Charlie Chester, Senior Assistant Tasting Room Manager
This year for Thanksgiving we are going non-traditional and skipping Turkey. We will be having an apple cider brined pork loin. I was thinking of roasting it in the oven but the weather looks too good to pass up some time with the Webber! In addition to the pork, we will have some bacon-roasted Brussels sprouts, a yet-to-be-chosen potato dish, and my sister will bring an undisclosed vegetable dish and dessert of some kind. I am sure Amber mentioned other sides that will be made but I can’t remember them now. A very mysterious menu I know. For the wines I am thinking of opening:

  • My last bottle of the sold-out TCV 2021 Vermentino (while I man the grill)

With dinner:

I am sure we may get excited about and open other wines we have on hand but that will be determined as the day progresses. Happy “Turkey Day” everyone!

Neil Collins, Executive Winemaker
Jordan instigated Lone Madrone's first Riesling in 2021, dry farmed and head trained, from the Wirz Vineyard, planted in 1964, located in the Cienega Valley. This will be a good place to start. I have a couple of bottles left of 2010 Madeline Cabernet Franc which should be showing wonderfully, coincidentally also from the Cienega Valley. I have been attempting to organize my cellar and have some older Tablas Creek wines to enjoy. Perhaps a 2016 Le Complice and a 2006 Esprit Rouge. As always there will be a Bristols Cider in the mix as it is so perfect for the occasion, currently I am enjoying the NC2. That should be a good line up, but as always we reserve the right to pull wine that feels right at the moment!! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!!

Thanksgiving 2022 - Champagnes from Ian's tripIan Consoli, Director of Marketing
I look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with my mother, father, brother, two neighbors, and my mother’s friend visiting from England. She came out to experience her first American Thanksgiving and enjoys wine, so I am planning an array to choose from. We’ll start the meal with a Champagne I picked up this past May. I traveled to Champagne as part of my EMBA program through Sonoma State. I brought back five favorites from the wineries we visited, and Ayala Brut Majeur feels right for this occasion. We will open an Anderson Valley Chardonnay from FEL, a wine my friend made that happens to be on the same Gayot “13 Best Thanksgiving Wines of 2022” list as our 2020 Esprit Blanc. I still need to decide on the rose, but A Tribute to Grace’s is the frontrunner. I have a few French wines lined up for reds: A Savigny-Les-Beaune 1er Cru Les Narbantons 2017 and Xavier & Agnes Amirault St Nicolas de Bourgueil, Les Clos Le Quarterons VV 2015. Finally, Tablas Creek Counoise completes any Thanksgiving meal. Wishing everyone the best this Thanksgiving!

Terrence Crowe, Tasting Room
This year's Thanksgiving festivities will be elevated by a curated selection of spectacular white wines. The following wines will adorn the table with graceful aplomb:

2016 Maison Les Alexandrins Hermitage Blanc 
2019 Tablas Creek Vineyard Marsanne
2015 Tablas Creek Vineyard Esprit De Tablas Blanc

Gobble gobble!

Thanksgiving Darren Delmore WhitethornDarren Delmore, National Sales Manager
After carousing most of America's Southwest for the last three months selling wine, my family is kicking back in Templeton this year. I have one bottle left of the 2020 Roussanne, which I confess nipping on while it was sitting in its French Oak oval during élevage. Autumnal in character, rich but light on its feet, it should be an excellent starting and ending point. My Thanksgiving red was chosen for me, signed on the label actually for Thanksgiving consumption, by the first winemaker I ever worked harvest for. Whitethorn Winery 2007 Pinot Noir Demuth Vineyard Anderson Valley, which should bring the cranberry, cherry, pennyroyal holiday waves. Happy Thanksgiving.

Chelsea Franchi, Senior Assistant Winemaker
Any time we’re able to get the family together is a cause for celebration, and celebrations beg for bubbles!  We’ll start (and continue…?) the day with a bottle of J. Lassalle Cachet Or Champagne. We’ll be up in Mammoth, so whether it will be opened carefully in the kitchen or sabered out in the snow with a ski is a decision yet to be made.

In our family, we don’t typically do the traditional Thanksgiving Day turkey, but this year we’re giving it a go.  I’ll be packing a bottle of Domaine Lapierre Morgon in the wine bag, along with the new release of the Carbonic Grenache from our neighbors at Alta Colina.  And no celebration of thanks would be complete without making it clear how much I love my coworkers and job; so a bottle of the 2019 Esprit Blanc will most certainly make an appearance.  Wishing everyone a happy and healthy holiday season!

Eddie Garcia, Logistics
Excited to get together with family this Thanksgiving 2022. Being able to share stories of what we are thankful, enjoy the time together, and being able to share wines we are excited for. My family usually gets together pretty early to start watching the football games. So, I have a couple bottles of 2021 Dianthus Rosé to start the day’s festivities. Who says you can’t Rosé all day, while watching the NFL?

For the dinner table, I  have some pretty diverse palates in my family, so I have a couple bottles that can satisfy. Earlier this year, I managed to “trade” for a 2014 Dry Farmed Cabernet Sauvignon from Venteux Vineyards. I’ve always been a huge fan of this Templeton winery, and am excited to be reacquainted with this varietal from them.  And for those that have a palate for hearty reds, I have a Caliza 2019 Reserve Syrah that checks the box in that category and was very tasty when I did a tasting earlier this year.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!!

Ray King, Tasting Room
This year’s Thanksgiving will be with my family, of which most live in the area. We celebrate a traditional turkey dinner, of which my mother and three sisters handle in spectacular fashion. I simply bring wine, enjoy family and the holiday. I will be bringing a host of wines to intrigue and enjoy with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. 

To start the evening:
Bristols Cider- Mangelwurzel
Amirault Crémant de loire 

For the meal: 
Tablas Creek 2021 Patelin Rose
Terrassen Gamay Noir 2019 (Finger Lake region)
Tablas Creek 2018 Mourvèdre
Tablas Creek 2017 Esprit Rouge

This is a solid line up for a solid Thanksgiving meal. 

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving 

Jordan Lonborg, Viticulturist (sent in from vacation)
Mezcal margaritas and shrimp tacos in Bacalar Mexico!!

Erin Mason, Regenerative Specialist
Regardless of the holidays, I seek to enjoy wines that feel like they fit into the holistic context of my life. Ones that intrinsically reflect the people and places from which they are born. Eyrie Vineyards in the Willamette Valley is always this for me, and I’ll be opening a bottle of their 2015 Muscat Ottonel this Thanksgiving day. Bone-dry, savory perfection—not your typical Muscat. It’s almost impossible for me NOT to drink Grenache at any occasion and this year I have two to savor. The first, a 2021 Tribute to Grace from the Santa Barbara Highlands and Vie Caprice vineyards in Santa Barbara county—Angela Osborne’s first ever 100% whole cluster creation; the other is a special bottle I acquired while working in the Columbia River Gorge this past winter: a 2019 Tzum Aine from the folks at Hiyu Wine Farm. This was one of the most compelling wines I tasted all year and look forward to the revisit. Of course, the day is not complete without giving thanks for all the amazing experiences I’ve had this year—specifically becoming part of the vineyard team at Tablas Creek—literally a dream come true. I’m opening a 2019 Esprit de Tablas Blanc to celebrate because the whites from this estate have always been exceptional, and the Esprit blend is one of the best examples of them.

Haydee McMickle, Tasting Room
This year about 24 are gathering. Family ages from 90 to 2 years. It will be loud, for the 90-year-old to hear and loud because of the 2-year-olds. It will be a casual all day affair, so we can all catch-up. Some will enjoy Cremant de Loire, others a Paloma cocktail (nephew’s assignment).  The wines for dinner will include a selection:

Esprit Blanc 2018
Terret Noir 2020
En Gobelet 2018

Happy Thanksgiving.

Nadia Nouri, Marketing Assistant
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and I am grateful that I get to go back to the Bay Area to spend it with my close family and friends. My family hasn’t had the opportunity to try much Tablas Creek wine since I joined the team this year, so it is only fitting to have an array of Tablas wines on the Thanksgiving table. I am looking forward to introducing my family to Picardan, as well as sharing the newest vintage of Esprit de Tablas Blanc and Cotes de Tablas - my tried and true. I’m excited to see how they pair with our Thanksgiving dishes!

Westin Reynolds, Tasting Room
We are very excited to bring a magnum of 2015 Esprit de Tablas to Thanksgiving! It is our first large family gathering since Covid started, so there is a lot to celebrate and magnums are always sure to excite. I also loved the 2015 vintage so I’m excited to see how it has aged. It is currently packed very carefully in a suitcase that we are planning to check, so wish me luck with that! We’ll also be sharing a 2021 Carbonic Grenache from Alta Colina where my wife Ivey works, and a 2022 Pet Nat from our friends in Walla Walla as a celebration of our son Jessee’s first Thanksgiving! 

Amanda Weaver, Cellar Assistant
This year I am looking forward to Martinelli's Sparkling Cider! Hah! Unfortunately/fortunately I will have to abstain from the fun and beautiful bottles that will adorn our Thanksgiving table due to the small human I am growing. However, what I lack in wine consumption I look forward to making up in food consumption! Even though I cannot participate I will be bringing a 2019 Tablas Creek Roussanne, per my mother’s request, and most likely a Cab Franc from the Loire by Domaine Xavier & Agnes Amirault, to keep the husband happy, and possibly a bottle of bubbles to keep everyone refreshed and feeling celebratory! This will be a very thankful Thanksgiving in our home this year! May all your tables be filled with good wine and good company! Happy Thanksgiving Day!

And as for me...
Typically, my choice is to open the largest bottle I have to hand at Thanksgiving gatherings. There's usually a story behind a big bottle, and the randomness of "just open it" adds a certain amount of pleasurable discovery to the gathering, as well as the festivity that large bottles bring. But there will only be six of us around the table this year, and only four adults. That means that a big bottle will limit the diversity of what we can open. So we'll stick to little (ok, normal) bottles. One will for sure be our 2020 Marsanne. Marsanne is a quiet grape, gently elegant, with honey and lightly floral aromatics and low alcohol. It won't elbow for attention at the table, and at a table that's so full of assertive flavors, that sounds nice. My mom loves Beaujolais, so we'll crack open a bottle of the Clos de la Roilette Fleurie. I'd love also to open an old-school California field blend, which seems appropriate for this quintessentially American holiday. Maybe one of the Ridge Lytton Springs that I've been saving, or maybe something from Bedrock. I'll have to dig around in my stocks to see what I have. After that, we'll have to see! 

Thanksgiving 2022 - Capon

Wherever you are, however you're celebrating, please know that we are thankful for you. May your celebrations, small or large, be memorable, and the wines you open outstanding.

Three Tales Intertwined: One Begins, One Continues, and One Finds a Home

By Ian Consoli

Every harvest season our team receives some temporary help to lessen the load of the hundreds of tons of grapes that flood through the cellar doors over the course of 8-10 weeks. The individuals that join us bring an assortment of stories and expertise. Some come to see wine production for the first time, some add another harvest under their belt, and some know what they want and see Tablas Creek's Harvest as a way to get there. This year's interns represent a variation of all three of these categories.

I enjoy sitting with the harvest interns every year to discuss where they came from, how they ended up at Tablas Creek, and where they are going next. This year we have three interns, Louisa, Michael, and Erin, whose answers are divided by color. I'm excited for you to meet them.

Three Tablas Creek internsFrom Left: Louisa, Michael, Erin

Who are you?

My name is Louisa, and I'm a Harvest intern at Tablas Creek right now.

Michael Mensing.

Erin Mason.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up near San Diego, in Del Mar, California.

I lived in Paso Robles for my whole childhood. My family moved here 30 years ago, so they've been here for a while. I graduated from Templeton High in 2015.

Mostly in Southeast Georgia. I lived the longest in Atlanta, so I claim Atlanta as where I'm from, but I've lived and grown up in the southeast my whole life. I ended up in California when I came out to work a harvest with Ian Brand in 2019. I've been living up and down the state ever since.

How did you get into wine?

I wasn't exposed to wine growing up, but I discovered it in college. I took a class at Cal Poly SLO called The Spirituality of Wine. And that got me interested in learning more about wine.

I've been drinking wine since I turned 21. When I moved back here from Australia two and a half years ago, I wanted to get into wine. I started researching wineries around the area here in Paso and got lucky enough to start working in the Tablas Creek tasting room. That's when I started working with and studying wine.

I was running beverage programs for a restaurant group in Atlanta. I wanted to connect on a different level with wine, less as a buyer and more with production and viticulture. I quit my job of 10 years, put all my stuff in storage, packed up my car, and came out to work harvest. I didn't have anything lined up after. I have been piecing together seasonal work and making it work for the last three years.

Louisa in the VineyardLouisa in the vineyard

How did you end up working Harvest with us?

My good friend Kayja worked the last two harvests here. She inspired me to apply for a position at Tablas. This is my first grape harvest, and it's going good.

I have wanted to work Harvest ever since I started here. Last year I worked Harvest at another winery, so this year I chatted with Chelsea and had a meeting with the cellar crew. We all got along, and here we are.

I came to Tablas because of the regenerative program and my interest in the sheep grazing the vineyard. I wanted to look deeper into a position involved with that. Harvest is a way for me to work and see if Tablas is a good long-term fit.

What was it like working our busiest harvest week ever?

It was a lot of grapes <laughs>. Yeah, it was a little bit overwhelming to look out in the parking lot and just see bins and bins and bins of grapes. But it was cool seeing how everyone worked together to make it happen and get all those grapes processed.

Exhilarating and tiresome and fun.

It's like working all of Harvest in one week <laughs>. It was fine. It was hard, long hours, and kind of grueling, but everybody was in good spirits, well organized, and efficient, which made it a lot easier. Everybody's hands-on, there's not really like a hierarchy of who's doing what, so everybody's in there working until it's done. But yeah, it was tough. <Laughs>

Michael and Erin on the sorting tableErin and Michael on the sorting table

What were you doing during the week?

Mainly on the sorting table and doing cap management, like pump overs and pulse airs to keep the ferments going. I like doing the DMAs the most, which is like getting the temperature and the density of all the different lots and stages they're in, and that's been really fun.

Hmm, that's a good question. A little bit of everything. I mean everything from cleaning tanks to processing fruit to just everything. They were long days.

Michael doing a punchdownMichael doing a punchdown

What has been your best memory from Harvest 2021?

Probably one of those really long days during those couple of hectic weeks. We had days we worked from 7am to almost 9pm. We had a water fight at the end of the night, <laughs>, which was super fun. Oh, and harvest lunches are great. Definitely a highlight.

Every day for lunch, we sit down and pull a couple picnic tables into the cellar. Then Winemaker Neil Collin's wife Marcie comes with food for everybody at about 12. We pick out a couple of bottles of wine, sit down for an hour or two, enjoy each other's company, and have food.

Seeing the first estate fruit come in. And just seeing the quality of fruit and the taste and being wowed by that.

Best bottle of wine you ever had?

I really like the Tablas Creek Dianthus. It's just really, really beautiful.

Probably the one I had with good company and good friends. There are so many good wines in the world, too many to choose from. I don't know if it could be my first Chablis, the 2000 Chateau Montelena, or the 2006 Beaucastel, I don't know. I don't remember the wines as much as I do the company I share them with. I've had a $2 bottle of wine that was absolutely fantastic because I shared it with great people.

One of the most memorable bottles is a 2007 Chateau Rayas, which was unlike any wine I've ever tasted. It was incredible and super alive. The experience of tasting it next to A Tribute to Grace 2007 from Santa Barbara Highlands, the first wine that Angela Osborne ever made, was really a cool experience.

Erin in the cellarErin working in the cellar

What's next for you?

I'm going to work for an organization called NOLS, an outdoor education school. I worked for them in Alaska this past summer doing backpacking and sea kayaking expeditions. This winter, I'm going to work for them down in Baja, doing sailing expeditions.

After Harvest, I'll go to Napa for a couple weeks to do my WSET level three. Then I'll go to Portland and check out the Oregon wine region for a little bit. Then I'll be back here in the tasting room. I hope to do a harvest in Europe somewhere next fall, potentially Italy, Portugal or France. But you never know what will happen.

Aside from a massage and recovery, hopefully, staying on here at Tablas and diving deeper into the regenerative organic certification. I like it here. Everybody seems super happy to work here. It's a good sign that people have worked here as long as they have. The property's beautiful, and everybody seems really generous. There's a lot of open-mindedness, curiosity, and support which I think is really important. Especially because there's no finish line or endpoint in regenerative agriculture. It's something that you're always going to be striving to do what's best, and that'll change and evolve. It seems like Tablas as a company has been able to do that in and of itself. So it gives me confidence in where the regenerative program could go.

A True Product of Tablas Creek Vineyard: An Interview with Cellar Assistant Austin Collins

By Ian Consoli

Austin Collins didn’t just grow up with Tablas Creek, he grew up at Tablas Creek. The son of winemaker Neil Collins, who moved with his family to the property when he started in 1998, Austin was here when the Tablas Creek nursery was in full swing. He was here when Tablas Creek harvested its second vintage from the Beaucastel clones and when we harvested the 14th and final of those clones. He was here when Tablas Creek got our organic certification in 2003, our Biodynamic certification in 2016, and the world's first Regenerative Organic Certification in 2020.

Austin joined the Tablas Creek team full-time in 2019 and now lives in that house on the property with his wife Taylor and newborn son Finnegan, who will be the third generation of Collins to live on this property. Now we can look forward to imagining what he will witness.

I sat down with Austin, a friend from my childhood, and asked about his journey, ambitions, and future.

 Who are you?

My name is Austin Collins. I am technically the cellar assistant, but I am more in the vineyard at this point. I am also the property caretaker here at Tablas Creek.

What are some of your daily activities?

I run irrigation right now. Turning on the water, fixing broken lines, and choosing where the water goes each day. Also, just looking at the vineyard, seeing what needs to be done, and making sure it looks good, and all the equipment and tractors are functioning correctly.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up here! At Tablas Creek, in the house right behind me. That's where I live now with my wife and our eight-month-old son.

For those who don't know, how did you end up growing up here?

My dad has been the winemaker here pretty much since the beginning, since 1998. We lived in France at Beaucastel for nine months to a year, then we moved into this house when I was about four.

Austin by his house

When did you really start to get into wine?

I started getting into it in 2015 when I moved back from school. I did a harvest at our family company, Bristols Cider, where I got into fermentation and realized how fun and unique it is. From there, I started drinking wine with friends, coworkers, and mentors. I did my first harvest internship at Linne Calodo here in Paso Robles with Matt Trevisan, and that's where it all started.

Did you always want to work in wine?

No [laughs]. Absolutely not. I thought it was ridiculous for a very long time, to see people drink, sip, and talk about wine. I thought it was madness until about 2015.

What did you want to do before you got into wine?

I went to school to study wildlife biology. I wanted to work in animal behavior studies. Then I got into plants, botany, andrology, and things like that.

Do you utilize any of those studies here?

Definitely, yeah. Biology and plant studies, absolutely.

Other than Linne Calodo, what winery experience did you have before Tablas Creek?

I spent a lot of time in the cellar here when I was a kid during harvest and kind of all year. After Linne Calodo, I interned in Burgundy, in Meursault at Domaine Matrot. Right after that internship, I worked at Beaucastel, which is obviously Tablas's sister winery in Châteauneuf. A few months after working there, I went to New Zealand and worked at a winery called Ata Rangi in Martinborough. Afterward, I returned, worked at Linne Calodo again for another harvest, and started working here in January 2019.

Growing up here on the property and living here currently, what's something you can share about Tablas Creek, this property, this place that not many people would know?

At our tallest point, you can see all of the coastal range through Big Sur. You can actually see Junipero Serra Peak, the tallest peak in Monterey County.

What is your favorite part about working at Tablas Creek?

Definitely the land. I grew up here, so it's the most special place in my world. I've been all over and always come back here thinking it's a special spot. Even the roads you can take from here. Adelaide Road to Klau Mine to Cypress Mountain towards Cambria is probably the best road in the county.

Austin Collins on a quad

I've heard you talk about Grenache flowering. Could you describe that experience?

That is a very nostalgic experience. I mean, this whole industry is a nostalgic experience between working in the cellar and in the vineyard. The flowering of Grenache vines is an incredibly strong smell. I didn't realize what it was until I got into the industry, particularly working in the vineyard. During flowering, like early June, you can just smell this intense perfume smell and it's strongest off the Grenache vines.

If a genie said you could be head winemaker anywhere you wanted, where would you pick?

That's tough. My favorite wineries are very small, so my being there would change them too much. It would be easier for me to answer if it was regional. My favorite wine region to work in would be Jura or Savoie, which are both Eastern France at the foothills of the Alps, between Burgundy and Switzerland.

Best bottle of wine you ever had?

That's a mean question. That's so hard. I was thinking about this last night, and I'll just use the first bottle that came to my head because you can go down a rabbit hole of wine bottles that you've had. It was a 1990 Trimbach Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile. I drank it in France with Francois Perrin and Cesar Perrin at Francois' house for dinner, and it was just stunning. Absolutely amazing.

Was that when you were working at Beaucastel?

Yeah, that's when I was working there. Francois invited me over for dinner, and I got to look at his wine list in his home cellar. He said, "Choose any bottle you would like." That was wild.

What's next for you?

I don't see myself going anywhere anytime soon. So probably just being here at Tablas. Tomorrow.

Could you tell us a little bit about your family life?

I married Taylor, my wife, in 2019, and we had Finnegan this past November. Being a dad changed my life massively. I have been here a lot. Lots of family time, walking around the vineyard, walking around our garden, walking in the creek bed, down and through the trees and the forest. It's grounded me a lot.

What do you do with your free time?

When I have free time? Yeah, there's not a lot of that these days [laughs]. I help run a music venue at our cider house in Atascadero. That's kind of my other job, but most of my free time is spent there. Also, watching live music and going to shows and music festivals anytime I can. Backpacking is my other passion. Anytime I can go out for a couple nights, I go either alone or with a buddy or two.

Would you rather:

Cake or Pie


Breathe under water or fly?

Fly because I think if I was breathing underwater, I'd still be really slow at swimming, and I'd probably get eaten by something.

Drink new world or old world wine?

That's tough. Every day is different, you know. Both.

What about today?

Today? New world.

Be a winemaker or a viticulturist?

Both, because being able to do both is so important that I think you have to do both.

Austin Collins